Secretary Chao has responded to the crisis by issuing a "call to care" to inspire young people to pursue nursing as a career, and initiating efforts between the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education (DED) to identify ways to jointly address the nursing shortage facing the nation.
The numbers say it all. Today employers are already facing difficulty in filling positions for registered nurses. According to the American Hospital Association there are currently 126,000 nursing positions unfilled in hospitals across the country. If this shortage of nurses continues, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts there will be about one million new job openings for registered nurses by 2010.
This Nurse Reinvestment Act will build upon work that is already underway by the federal government.
DOL and HHS are creating a nursing career ladder pilot program that will link Job Corps to nurses aid apprenticeships, community colleges, vocational and professional nursing education programs.
Earlier this year, the Department of Labor launched www.CareCareers.net which is an on-line job bank dedicated to nursing careers in long-term care, which we created through a cooperative effort with the American Health Care Association and American Homes and Services for the Aging. You may have seen American Olympic Gold Medal Winner Jimmy Shea talking about the "call to care" and promoting www.CareCareers.net through Public Service Announcements.
In addition, a $10 million nursing scholarship program has been established -- the result of a partnership between the Department and the health care company, HCA.
Secretary Elaine L. Chao promoted careers in nursing during a visit to the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles last month. She also visited the Guatemalan twins who were surgically separated in August and the nurses who cared for them.
The Bush Administration is committed to finding ways to address the nursing shortage. The Women's Bureau has placed a special focus on the nursing shortage issue as well, as part of its "Strengthening the Family" agenda.
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